I had a plan for Friday.
With Marquette Golden Eagles volleyball starting their Big East semifinal match at 2:30pm, men’s basketball starting at 3:30pm, and women’s basketball starting at 4pm, sacrifices had to be made. Item #1 on the list: Men’s basketball. Sorry, boys, but the volleyball was more important than you plus I was there in person.
Women’s basketball against Saint Mary’s, though, that I could watch, at least most of it. I could reasonably expect the volleyball match to be over in about 2 hours if not sooner, so as long as I had my trusty iPad with me, I was going to be able to watch Megan Duffy and her team thanks to the free video stream provided by Saint Mary’s for MU’s opening game of SMC’s Walnut Creek Convention & Visitors Bureau Thanksgiving Classic. And that’s what happened. Volleyball swept Villanova, wrapping up right around 4pm, and even though women’s basketball didn’t start on time as scheduled, I still had that stream to watch.
And then it didn’t work.
And then I tried with Safari set to Private Browsing. Didn’t work.
And then I tried with the Twitter app I use on the iPad. Didn’t work.
And then I downloaded Chrome and tried that. Didn’t work.
The real bummer here is that sure, I could watch the men’s team against USC at that point, but it was also not a competitive game. It was fun to watch Markus Howard absolutely blow the doors off of USC, that’s for sure, but the game was pretty much decided.
Then, finally, the stream was magically fixed, and thanks to the very helpful heads up tweet from Jordan King’s mom, I could start watching. This was right around the start of the third quarter, which is particularly great, because that was the quarter where Marquette blew the game open. The Golden Eagles had held a 43-38 advantage at halftime, but that’s hardly what you would call a safe lead. In fact, twice right before half, Marquette had pushed the margin to seven, but the Gaels had immediately answered.
SMC’s Sam Simons started off the scoring in the third, but Marquette answered with four of their own to get that seven point lead back. Then, after some trading back-and-forth, Marquette was able to get inside on three straight possessions, including twice by Selena Lott and once in transition by Lauren Van Kleunen after a Lott steal, and ZIIIIIP, Marquette was suddenly up 11, 55-44, with 6:02 left in the quarter.
With that on the board, it wasn’t an issue of holding Saint Mary’s off any more. The issue instead was whether or not Marquette could maintain their double digit advantage. A bucket by Isabelle Spingola made it 13, but SMC answered with four straight to bring it back to nine. Marquette closed the quarter with four of their own — first King in transition from Lott, then Claire Kaifes on a pass from King — and it was 63-50 with 10 minutes left to go. Marquette ended up outscoring Saint Mary’s 20-12 in the quarter, and ultimately, that’s all the space that they would need for the win.
A transition bucket from SMC’s Emily Codding with seven minutes to go cut Marquette’s lead back down to 10 points, but that’s as close as it would get the rest of the way. MU rolled out a 7-2 run after that Codding basket, and that turned into a 12-4 advantage across a five-and-a-half minute span. That’s how you win ball games.
Marquette got a trio of double digit point performances, led by 18 each from Lott and Van Kleunen, and both women chipped in elsewhere, too. Lott had five rebounds, four assists, and three steals, while Van Kleunen added three rebounds, four assists, and two steals. King was the other big scorer, putting up 13 points, seven rebounds, and three assists. It was a big day for Spingola, who just missed a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.
While the offense played well enough to win and lots of people contributed, it was, as could be expected from this team this season, the defense that truly carried the day. Marquette held the Gaels to just 0.86 points per possession, which will get you a W more often than not. They also forced SMC into a bunch of missed shots, and even better than that, MU did not let their opponent get to very many of their misses for second chances. All in all, a quality defensive performance, and given how many freshmen are required to be a part of it, we should probably be even more impressed with what Duffy is accomplishing here than we already are.
Up Next: It’s a quick turnaround for Marquette. As of this writing on Saturday morning, there’s just over six hours to go until MU tips off against Tulsa in their second game of The Walnut Creek Convention & Visitors Bureau Thanksgiving Classic. The Golden Hurricane dropped to 3-3 on the season after losing to Western Kentucky, 76-63, on Friday out in Moraga. For more on that game, go check out our preview of the WCCVBTC.